Artists’ Retreat: Errol Morris Buys Joseph Brodsky’s Apartment for $1.9M

Errol Morris. (Patrick McMullan)

Errol Morris. (Patrick McMullan)

A MacArthur grant is not quite the same as a Nobel prize in literature. And for the cultured northern Brooklynite, having as a neighbor a prominent left-leaning documentary filmmaker does not perhaps yield quite the same cachet as having a renowned exiled Soviet writer down the street. But certainly, a documentarian with a McArthur under his belt, like Errol Morris, is a better replacement for Joseph Brodsky than, say, a management consultant. And thus, artistically-inclined Brooklyn Heights residents living in the vicinity of 22 Pierrepont Street can rejoice. Mr. Morris and his wife, art historian Julia Sheehan, have just bought Brodsky’s former home at that address for $1.9 million, according to city records. (Brodsky passed away in 1996.)

Book and person storage.

Book and person storage.

Reached by phone, Douglas Elliman broker Leslie Mason, who shared the listing with colleague Kevin Landers, declined to comment on the sale. But the brokers’ ad copy alleges “a feeling of “intelligence, warmth, and authenticity.” The new owners, of course, bring intellectual cred of their own. A little pre-existing bookishness, though, certainly can’t hurt.

A three-bedroom—one of which, we’d guess, might serve as a study—with a sizable backyard, the home occupies two levels of a co-op located inside a stately 1855 townhouse 25 feet wide. A grand-scale parlor floor sports 16-foot ceilings, with walls lined entirely by bookcases. Here, too, are an original mantle, stained-glass transoms and north-facing floor-to-ceiling windows. Lest northern exposure yield chilly interior temperatures, there’s also a wood-burning fireplace. (And plenty of fleecy outerwear available from local high-end boutiques lately replacing those tired old mom-and-pop shops!)

And for plants.

And for plants.

In Brooklyn Heights, Mr. Morris is unlikely to find the kinds of subjects that populate his films—eccentric, down-at-the-heels Floridians, pet cemeteries, Donald Rumsfeld—but the neighborhood might very well provide the sort of peaceful environment one requires to google or, you know, read about, such things. Besides, the director’s often high-brow subject matter and artsy approach have often produced work that does not quite pay the bills. Mr. Morris has produced a good many television commercials to make up the difference. And brownstone Brooklyn, of course, is great for that.

Artists’ Retreat: Errol Morris Buys Joseph Brodsky’s Apartment for $1.9M